The Graphic Design of Chaz Maviyane-Davies


To briefly summarize the 'world as I see it', the overwhelming words that encapsulate my being, role and motivation in it all, is 'CREATIVE DEFIANCE'.

The dictionary describes defiance as: a daring or bold resistance to authority or any opposing force, –in short, a challenge.

This is a defiance bred, from growing up with the degradation, that is racism and discrimination.

A defiance extracted from the indignity of being portrayed and treated as inferior, just because of the location of my birth

A defiance that sits uncomfortably in an intolerant world not willing to accept differences, as this would mean sharing, and god forbid that.

A defiance inflamed at watching the visions, images, wisdom and cultures of my forefathers relegated to vignettes of global subversion.

A defiance triggered by the human and ecological damage we are causing, by living in collective denial of the problems, inherit in the lifestyles that control us.

A defiance exacerbated by hypocritical, populist politicians and the wealthy, who use their expertise to skew and game our democratic potential, in the name of nationalism.

A defiance at being invisible, never looked at but looked through, as my ideas have no right to be pertinent and influential, because that would mean I exist beyond society’s fearful image of anyone who looks like me.

Ultimately a defiance strengthened, through searching for a visual language that defies the manipulative communication, that neutralizes our senses, for the benefit of market forces alone.

Ironically, it is supposed to be a new age for the world to enter our cultural arena and embrace and celebrate our spiritual participation in humanity. Yet to accept our contributions as equal, is to accept us as equals - and therein my friends is the larger battle.

A battle I am waging by staying true to the source of my inspiration and passionate to my vision and vocation as a catalyst for social change. This focus is my penetration against the bubble of complacency that surrounds us, with the hope that we can all live as respected equals with dignity, able to enrich the world that sustains us.

After all, is it not a designer’s duty to offer a new vitality, energy and greater appreciation of the diversity of the world, to the world, through the defiance of creativity?


Born in Zimbabwe.

Professor Emeritus of Design at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston where I taught until 2016.

For more than three decades my work has taken on issues of consumerism, health, nutrition, social responsibility, the environment, human rights and politics.

Education includes an MA in Graphic Design (with distinction) from the Central School of Art and Design in London, and an Advanced Diploma in Postgraduate Filmmaking from the Central St. Martins School of Art and Design London.

Also spent a year in Japan studying three-dimensional design and a total of ten months in Malaysia working on various world-reaching design projects for the International Organization of Consumers Unions and JUST World Trust.

Design work experience in London includes time with Fulcrum Design, Newell and Sorrell Design Ltd., as well as a stint in the Department of Graphic Design of BBC Television.

From 1983 until 2000 I was the principal of The Maviyane-Project, a design studio in Harare. As a result of the social, humane and confrontational nature of my work, I felt compelled to temporarily leave Zimbabwe because of the adverse political climate there.

Amongst several awards, in 2003 I was recognised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with an award for outstanding commitment to the struggle to transform society and create a just future as well as another recognition award from Simmons College, Boston for courage and integrity in stimulating activism for social social change.  

That year I was also Honour laureate at the 13th Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition and also gave the prestigious Dwiggins lecture, sponsored by the Society of Printers and the Boston Public Library. In 2004 I became the first recipient of the Anthon Beeke International design award in Amsterdam. 

In 2009 I was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. 

I was recognized with an AIGA Boston Fellow Award in 2018.

My work is included in several international permanent collections in various galleries.


reviews & press

Uses graphic design as a force for social development and change..... also represents an important attempt to find to find a graphic voice relevant to the black community... provides the ideological revolution with a visual revolution.... GRAPHIC AGITATION (Phaidon UK)

And what an impact the posters made.... The images in the seven all belonging to a series entitled REMEMBER are subtle but the messages are compellingly clear.... NEW STRAITS TIMES (Malaysia)

Rebel with a cause.... studies subject meticulously so that he can dominate it when he finally puts an idea down..... obstacles are welcomed, the more obdurate the better, which enables his sharpened facilities to chisel out well defined results...... IDEA (Japan)

The Art of liberty...... DESIGN (Brazil)

Has taken raw, passionate burning talent and turned into an intellectual art...... THE CLUB (Zimbabwe)

Explores an indigenous iconography that speaks not only for his clients’ particular needs but for Zimbabwe..... PRINT (USA)

It’s a dramatic understatement to say that Chaz is passionate about design and its role in human affairs.... HOW (USA)

Overcoming his present situation and disadvantages in Africa, he tries to deliver to viewers strong messages of silence filled with inborn beauties of African cultures and traditions... DESIGNET (Korea)

Distinctive, bold and African, there is a driving force behind all of Chaz’s work... His images attempt successfully to challenge and expand barriers of culture and political expression... JUBILEE (Newspaper of the 8th Assembly of the World Council of Churches)

The poster is, first of all, a way of thinking. It should surprise, challenge and intrigue us...Chaz Maviyane-Davies's 'Eject' poster did just that. A recent emigre to the United States, brought his experience of political apathy to the forefront via his posters.... COMMUNICATION ARTS (USA)

African subjects are employed to represent the Everyman, the international citizen, not simply to enact a "reversal" of the dominant white paradigm, but also call into question the very notion that universal subjects exist.... PRINT (USA)

Was one of 30 designers worldwide invited to design a poster for the 2nd U.N. Conference on the Environment held in Rio de Janeiro and shown in over 30 countries. These are some of the press comments on my work from the exhibition:

The revelation from Zimbabwe ...... technically sophisticated ..... the most dramatic poster of the exhibition and the biggest seller.......   JOURNAL DO BRASIL (Brazil)

Ever the guerilla fighter of graphic design .... The poster sold out before the exhibition closed..... DESIGN (UK) 

Has scored a first for Zimbabwe..... AFRICA SOUTH (South Africa) 

A universal message with African character....... TIPOGRAFICA (Argentina)

By July in Brazil alone over 10,000 posters and 20,000 cards were sold with Chaz’s poster heading the order of choice.... PRINT (USA) 

Whose poster conveyed the spirit of the conference...... DOMINGO (Brazil) 

Was one of the few artist who chose to see mankind as an integral part of the rhythm of nature....... His dedicated and single-minded approach to work evokes a sense of passion and pride in being African.... HERALD (Zimbabwe) 

An incredible communicator and commentator on incredible issues, via incredible images..... The IDEA (India) 

A design genius.... PACKAGE & DESIGN (China) 

Combines a great knowledge of craft with the deep insight of the power of words and images..... AREA (UK) 

He possesses the deft ability to imbue his imagery with meanings that change depending on who’s on the receiving end - they can resonate within the hearts and souls of the exploited like folksongs while, at the same time, perforating the paranoid political power brokers’ backsides like bullets..... NOVUM (Germany) 

On my first short film ‘After the Wax’: 

Director of the first genuine Zimbabwean film..... MAINICHI (Japan) 

In other hands this statement would be so much shrill rhetoric, but Maviyane-Davies invests his images with a convincing dignity..... HORIZON (Zimbabwe) 

The film is a condensation of Chaz’s creativity, personality and produced in the climate of Africa’s turbulent history with the ancestral thoughts that stream through his veins.... EARTH CRISIS (Japan) 

His biggest contribution to the movie world may be his short film ‘After the Wax’ which combines a medley of metaphorical dialogue and artistic excellence... DAILY GAZETTE (Zimbabwe)